I would like nothing else but to love Daniel, The Stable Boy.
It would certainly save me heaps of trouble and annoyance over the fan wars about Swan Queen and how that makes no sense and all that jazz. I would not have to make people ‘see’ why I think Emma/Regina relationship work, why I think the sheriff is her perfect counterpart, someone with whom a relationship would be fulfilling for both parties.
But, alas, I cannot love Daniel’s character because HE HAS NOT GOT ANY.
I came across this realization when I tried to write a one shot where Daniel (and Stable Queen respectively) plays a great role. As a writer I tried to summarize what I know about him in order to ‘write’ him. How would he think in a situation like [example]? What are his values? What does he like? He is a stable boy, alright, so we can assume he likes horses? What assures me in this assumption?
Nothing. I could not find one word to charaterize Daniel except for ‘is Regina’s True Love’. Which, in my book, is not a person’s characteristics. A person cannot be characterized simply by who they date. They need to have a life on their own in order to be able to create meaningful relationships with others.
Daniel simply does not exist outside of Regina.
We see him as sort of a magnet to draw out Regina’s emotions on the screen while he himself appears quite stoic, just absorbing the emotions and reacting in a way that reflects Regina’s thinking. Example: Regina thinks her mother is controlling and knows there is something wrong about the way she treats her and Daniel brings this up (before saving Snowhite). Again, Daniel just exists within Regina’s character, voicing her concerns.
That is my problem with Daniel. The only way how to write a good Stable Queen fan fiction is to make up Daniel’s character in your head, assuming he likes horses, assuming he is the prototype of a good and supportive boyfriend. You need to give him a character before writing him properly.
And that is my problem with Daniel. He is like a plain donut - if someone asks you how it tastes you cannot really describe it because it tasted like a motherfucking donut. On the other hand Emma Swan is a chocolate coated, rainbow sprinkled donut filled with childhood issues, dependance problems and emotional turmoil.
I believe Regina has the right to eat any of those two (metaphorically and literally, yes). But if presented at the same time, she should go for the one that actually has a taste.
Why does Emma’s relationship with Regina feel more fulfilling to me? Because in order for it to feel real, I need two characters that I can ship together.
Daniel does not pass the ‘character’ test in my eyes.